Question: Does God use evil spirits to do His bidding on the earth? (For example, 1 Sam 16:14 “an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him” and 1 Kings 22 with Ahab and a deceiving spirit sent by God.)
Well this could possibly be a very controversial subject, and I will do my best to answer it honestly. There are a few things that instantly come to me when I thought about this question. The first was two scriptures, the other a thought.
The thought I have is, what is God’s will? We have His general will to understand, but God’s general will (in my opinion) is not the same as His will for say a situation. Let’s consider a Christian, who generally tries to be right before the Lord. They do their best to follow after God, following His will the best they know how. Now let’s pretend they sin in such a way that disrupts the path they were on, forcing them to have to go in another direction. If God’s will were static, then there would be no way for them to ever be in His perfect will.
Now let’s look at the first scripture I thought of. Romans 12:2 (NIV) says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I want you to focus on the end part which reads “His good, pleasing and perfect will.” I love this version of this scripture because it seems to really relay the point. God’s will is good, that is, that it is pleasing and perfect in His sight. The thing here is that this verse is written to people who God knows will not always be pleasing and perfect. Finding God’s will is a process, a process in which we will make mistakes, some humans never making them right. And yet God has a will that He expects will be fulfilled on earth.
The interesting thing is that the Bible is chocked full of stories of human failure and God’s redemption. Often times this redemption comes in very strange and unexpected ways. With all that in mind, let’s look at the second scripture. Romans 8:28 (NIV) familiarly says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Let’s focus here on an important statement, “In ALL THINGS God works for the good.” What is the lesson in all this? God is always working in His creation to bring about His will. In joy and sorrow, freedom and oppression, sickness and health. Notice I did not say causes all these things, but that He works in them.
I found an interesting verse, Isaiah 13:17 (NIV) which states, “See, I will stir up against them the Medes…” The point here is not the who but the what. God said, “I will stir up against.” Look at Isaiah 45:1 (NIV), “This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him
so that gates will not be shut.” God uses what ever means He deems fit to accomplish what His will in the current time is.
The place I think people get tripped up on is not that God does certain things, but how He does them. Here is a place I think we can get into trouble, when we try to fill in what is not fully there. For example we saw that Isaiah said He would stir up the Medes, but what exactly this was we are not told. Was it a dream or a vision? Was it an angel or demon? Or did God use their own desire and fuel that fire? We simply don’t know. We know God used Pharaoh’s own personality against him.
I think the thing we need to understand is what God doesn’t do. He does not sin, He does not cause temptation, but we know that He does allow these things. However it should be noted that whatever He allows, He keeps control over it. Like with Job, He wasn’t the author of the trial yet He limited the trial. We can get into issues when we start blanket-stating what God can or can’t do. The Bible gives us examples of what He can’t do (for example, lie) but He evidently allowed a lying spirit to operate to bring about His will in a situation.
I guess my point is, our black and white limitations don’t work on the Creator who foresaw a rainbow and said it was good. As His followers we should endeavor to see Him and what He is doing in light of this. Certainly some of what I’m saying here could be taken out of context, I would urge the reader not to do that as well. If the Bible says God won’t do something, I would not say He would. However if a person takes what is said and tries to import their understanding on it, and then claims “this is what God meant,” I may have some hesitation. I believe we all should. The Bible says to test all things, hold fast to that which is good. It does not say hold fast to what sounds good.